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Andrew Maxwell – Edinburgh Festival review

Thursday, August 23 2012

Combative, abrasive and smart as ever – Andrew Maxwell is on fine form

Andrew Maxwell

Quite early on Andrew Maxwell’s show, a couple of people conspicuously leave the large auditorium. There is something of an altercation of words. Everyone boos them, and they leave, with little sympathy.

Maxwell, it is fair to say, takes no prisoners. As the disgruntled pair flounce out, he issues a warning – "anyone who’s offended by anything, leave now". Political, polemical, and – bizarrely – serenaded in to the theme tune of Pinky and the Brain, he is taking potshots from the start, and doesn’t care who gets in the line of fire. Scottish nationalism, Team GB, redneck American, blue blood England – everything is fair game for his astute, acerbic scorn.

His audience seem to delight in this combative approach, even when it is directed at them. A few hecklers spiritedly weigh in on the question of Scottish independence – and seem to enjoy his retaliation as he methodically slams each point in their argument. For all its confrontation it’s a good-natured sort of banter, and it’s refreshing to see a comedian actually engaging with their audience, rather than just using them as a blank canvas to paint his many points.

His is a pugnacious type of comedy – by his own estimation, "it’s just a boy pointing out that the Emperor is naked". His tone can be abrasive, but it’s sharp humour, and often spot on. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, and by the end of an hour it can get a bit tiring to hear yet more derision, however keen-sighted (drawing attention to imperial nudity is only one breed of stand-up, after all). But there’s no doubting he’s a capable performer with the gift of the gab and a dexterous knack for reducing complex issues to wry one-liners. While the theme of That’s the Spirit seems a little tenuous, this is a guaranteed hour of good solid stand-up.

4 stars

Andrew Maxwell – That's the Spirit is on at 9.05pm at the Assembly George Square

Review written by Sarah Sharp


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